This Just In
(1)Initiatives Could Boost Incarcerations In State
(2)New High in U.S. Prison Numbers
(3)Editorial: Safe From Searches
(4)William F. Buckley, 1925 - 2008

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )



Pubdate: Fri, 29 Feb 2008
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2008 Statesman Journal
Author: Peter Wong, Statesman Journal

Oregon was among the states in the 1990s that led the way toward mandatory minimum prison terms for violent criminals.

But unless voters reject both pending ballot measures in the fall, Oregon will not be among the states lessening penalties on drug dealers, burglars and other property offenders.

A ballot initiative sponsored by Kevin Mannix of Salem and approved by voters as Measure 11 in 1994 imposed minimum sentences on people convicted of 16 violent crimes. The number of affected crimes has risen to 24, three of them added by the Legislature in 2006.

Another ballot initiative, also sponsored by Mannix and submitted for the Nov. 4 election, would impose minimum sentences on first-time property and drug offenders. Mannix already has submitted about 150,000 signatures, 83,000 of which are required to qualify it.

The Legislature's February session responded by sending voters an alternative that lengthens sentences for larger-volume drug dealers and repeat property offenders. It also ties in drug treatment for many offenders.


If both measures pass Nov. 4, the one that gets more votes will take effect.



Pubdate: Fri, 29 Feb 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: N. C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer
Note: The report

More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more, according to a report released yesterday.

With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

The growth in prison population is largely because of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been particularly affected: One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group.

The report compiled and analyzed data from several sources, including the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and Bureau of Prisons and each state's department of corrections. It did not include individuals detained for noncriminal immigration violations.

Although studies generally find that imprisoning more offenders reduces crime, the effect may be less influential than changes in the unemployment rate, wages, the ratio of police officers to residents and the proportion of young people in the population, report co-author Adam Gelb said.

In addition, when it comes to preventing repeat offenses by nonviolent criminals -- who make up about half of the incarcerated population -- less-expensive punishments such as community supervision, electronic monitoring and mandatory drug counseling might prove as much or more effective than jail.


About 91 percent of incarcerated adults are under state or local jurisdiction. And the report also documents the tradeoffs state governments have faced as they devote larger shares of their budgets to house them. For instance, over the past two decades, state spending on corrections (adjusted for inflation) increased 127 percent; spending on higher education rose 21 percent.

Five states -- Vermont, Michigan, Oregon, Connecticut and Delaware -- now spend as much as or more on corrections as on higher education. Locally, Maryland is near the top, spending 74 cents on corrections for every dollar it spends on higher education. Virginia spends 60 cents on the dollar.


The U.S. Supreme Court has recently issued decisions giving judges more leeway under mandatory sentencing laws, and a number of states -- including Texas, which has the country's second-highest incarceration rate -- are seeking to reduce their prison population by adopting alternative punishments.




Pubdate: Fri, 29 Feb 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times

Two Supreme Court Cases Will Help Define the Boundaries Between Privacy and Policing.

The 4th Amendment guarantees the right to be secure from "unreasonable searches and seizures." But the strength of that protection depends on the willingness of the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent police from going too far in the name of law and order.

Two cases newly added to the court's docket will test its commitment to privacy rights.

In one case, the court will review a sensible decision by the Arizona Supreme Court that police acted unlawfully in searching the parked car of a man they already had in custody on a charge of driving with an expired license.

Rodney Gant was handcuffed and locked in a patrol car when police searched his car and found a gun and cocaine.


In the other case the court will revisit the limits of the so-called exclusionary rule, which prevents prosecutors from using tainted evidence. Sheriff's department employees in Coffee County, Ala., arrested Bennie Dean Herring after being told by a neighboring county's sheriff's department that a warrant was outstanding for Herring's arrest.

In fact, the warrant had been recalled.

But by the time the correction reached Coffee County, Herring was under arrest, and the police had confiscated illegal drugs and a gun from his truck.

Because the police lacked a valid warrant, the search of Herring's truck was illegal, but a federal judge allowed the evidence to be used against him anyway, a decision upheld by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court cited a 1995 case in which the Supreme Court allowed a "good-faith exception" to the exclusionary rule when an error by a court employee misled police into believing that a valid arrest warrant existed.

If the high court extends that exemption to inaccurate police information, the exclusionary rule will be one loophole closer to extinction. Reversing the decision, on the other hand, would provide an incentive for police to ensure that their computerized information is accurate and up to date.


One common proposal is to allow victims of illegal searches to sue the police for damages, but it's unlikely (to put it mildly) that juries would be willing to punish officers for searches that resulted in a conviction. The Supreme Court already has gone too far in creating exceptions to the rule. An exemption for police who rely on the mistakes of other police would further blur what should be a bright line.


 (4) William F. Buckley, 1925 - 2008  ( Top )

Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Scott Kraft, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Pundit Shaped the New Conservatism

William F. Buckley Jr., the columnist, novelist, television talk show host and tireless intellectual who founded the modern conservative movement and was its articulate voice for nearly six decades, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Buckley, who had been ill with emphysema, died while at work in his study in Stamford, Conn., according to Richard Lowry, the editor of National Review, the magazine Buckley founded in 1955.

An urbane pundit with a lacerating wit, Buckley was the intellectual heart of American political conservatism in the 1960s and '70s. His ardent friends and admirers came to include a California governor, Ronald Reagan, who sought Buckley's counsel frequently during his campaign and presidency, calling him "perhaps the most influential journalist and intellectual in our era." Buckley also inspired generations of conservatives, who now fill think tanks and write for National Review, the Weekly Standard and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.


National Review, which has been published continuously for more than half a century, became Buckley's enduring legacy. He kept it afloat with his speaking fees and annual fundraisers and, today, it has a healthy circulation of 166,000 and an endowment that will keep it alive for years. "We'll be around long after you've written my obituary," Buckley told The Times in 2001.


What set Buckley apart from his peers, though, was his fascination with the cultural currents of America. Though a champion of the right, he had a tolerant, even inquisitive attitude toward the counterculture. During the 1960s, he could been seen riding a motorcycle through the streets of New York, his fashionably long hair blowing in the wind. He printed favorable articles on the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead in National Review, to the dismay of his ideological soul mates.

His libertarian instincts led him, in 1972, to come out for decriminalizing marijuana, which he boldly announced he had sampled while on a sail into international waters, beyond the jurisdiction of American law. And, later, he advocated relaxing drug laws, arguing that the damage done by prosecuting such laws exceeded the damage that would be done by relaxing them. Acknowledging that his position was opposed by most conservatives, he said: "I have sort of grandfather privileges on the subject."





Is work therapy during recovery from drug addiction legitimate treatment or abuse of free labor? A lawsuit in Seattle may help to determine the answer.

Also last week, another miracle cure for drug addiction is beginning to look like a problem drug itself to some observers; legislators in Vermont take their two steps back with harsher cocaine laws after taking one step forward with reduced cannabis penalties; and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has a better idea than simply making tougher laws.


Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Levi Pulkkinen

Two Say They Were Forced To Work For No Pay

They came to Seattle Drug and Narcotic Center Inc. looking for help kicking heroin addictions, and were put to work.

Six days a week, they moved and sorted paper at SeaDruNar Recycling LLC, a for-profit recycling plant owned by the treatment center. They exhausted themselves week after week without a wage, keeping the multimillion-dollar operation going one pallet of paper at a time.

SeaDruNar managers called the program "work therapy" aimed at teaching ex-addicts how to work in the sober world. Some former clients take a different view.

"It's like slavery," said David Schodron, who has joined another former SeaDruNar patient in a lawsuit against the treatment center. "You either worked or you went back to where you came from."

Schodron, 52, and co-plaintiff Leann Lafley said they were forced to work either at the plant or cleaning the treatment center where both lived, or risk prison time for drug offenses. They say they're entitled to back wages that were denied to them and other patients forced to work at the plant. They are waiting to hear if the state Supreme Court will take the case.




Pubdate: Sat, 23 Feb 2008
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2008 The Baltimore Sun Company
Authors: Doug Donovan and Fred Schulte

WASHINGTON - Amid growing illegal sales and abuse of buprenorphine, top federal officials outlined yesterday action they might take to curb problems with the addiction-treatment drug, including more precise detection methods, improved training of doctors and stronger warning labels for patients.

"The issue of diversion has been out there since 2004," said Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, which oversees the federal government's buprenorphine initiative. "We've been concerned about that, and we will continue to be concerned about that."

Clark spoke to reporters after a two-day, closed-door summit of experts on buprenorphine, which the government sees as the best medical treatment for hundreds of thousands of people addicted to heroin or painkillers.

Introduced in 2003, the drug known as "bupe" has been subject to increasing misuse and illegal sales as more of it is prescribed by physicians, The Sun reported in a series of articles beginning in December. Some patients sell it on the street; buyers use it to get high or hold off withdrawal symptoms until they can get their next heroin or painkiller hit.

With tens of thousands of opiate addicts in Maryland, Baltimore and state officials are investing millions of dollars in bupe treatment. Experts say it's safer than methadone - the traditional heroin treatment, normally given out under close supervision - and more likely to appeal to addicts because they can get bupe from their doctors.

Though Clark and other officials said they are encouraged that bupe has expanded access to drug treatment, they acknowledged publicly for the first time a need to tighten safeguards over use of the drug, sold mainly under the name Suboxone.




Pubdate: Sat, 23 Feb 2008
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2008 Times Argus
Author: Daniel Barlow

MONTPELIER -- Two weeks after lowering criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday approved a bill that boosts the fines and jail times for possessing heroin and cocaine.

The new proposal, which passed the committee in a 5-0 vote, lowers the levels of possession for the two illegal drugs at which trafficking charges would kick in -- thereby boosting the penalties a person could face when arrested.

Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, the chairman of the committee, said the bill is directly targeted at stopping the inflow of hard drugs into Vermont from larger, out-of-state cities in Massachusetts, New York and Canada.

The violence surrounding drug sales is increasingly worrying, Sears said. He added that there are also emerging reports of dealers and gangs hooking young women on these drugs and then forcing them into prostitution to pay for their habits.




Pubdate: Sat, 23 Feb 2008
Source: Star-Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2008sStar-Gazette
Author: Peter Christ

The issue of taxing illegal drugs put forward by Gov. Eliot Spitzer is a fantasy of bizarre proportions.

I have a better idea. Let's regulate them. Seriously. Let's legalize all illegal drugs, place them under strict controls of production and distribution and allow our medical community to deal with the health problems of addiction. Let's take all the money wasted on waging the unwinnable War on ( some ) Drugs and spend it on intervention, health screening and treatment. Let's just bypass the criminals and international cartels ( that are totally in control of the black market of illegal drugs ) and free up our police forces to deal with real crimes like theft and assault. Brilliant.

Of course, critics of legalization will put forth their usual "but what about the children?" I say, "OK, what about the children?" Think about these basic facts: since Richard Nixon first declared the War on Drugs 37 years ago, drugs are in every community in the nation. Drugs today are so prevalent we cannot keep them out of our jails and prisons, let alone out of our communities or our children's schools.




The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take a couple of seemingly unspectacular cases relating to enforcement of the drug war - whether that bodes good or bad for policy will be seen. Also, a report out of USA Today suggests border patrol agents are facing more violence, at least in part due to the drug war; and a Pittsburgh newspaper closely follows the career of a corrupt drug officer.


Pubdate: Tue, 26 Feb 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: Linda Greenhouse

WASHINGTON -- In colloquial terms, "money laundering" means cleaning "dirty" money -- the proceeds of a drug transaction, for example -- by using it in a way that hides its origins and gives it the appearance of legitimate wealth.

The Supreme Court is not known for its bent for the colloquial, but a majority of the justices appeared ready to insist on this definition, as a matter of statutory interpretation, during an argument on Monday on the scope of the federal Money Laundering Control Act.

That presented an obvious problem for the government, which interprets the law a good deal more broadly, applying it in this case to the activity of a courier who hid $83,000 in cash under the floorboard of his car as he headed for the Texas border with Mexico.

According to the government, that act of concealment, as part of a plan to take the money out of the country, was exactly what Congress had in mind when it passed the act in 1986. The federal appeals court in New Orleans agreed, upholding the money-laundering conviction of a Mexican man, Humberto F. R. Cuellar, who was stopped on a Texas highway for driving substantially under the speed limit. The police officers began searching the car after they smelled marijuana on the roll of bills that Mr. Cuellar took out of his pocket.

The justices on Monday appeared unpersuaded by the breadth of the government's argument, wondering why its interpretation of the statute might not make a criminal out of someone who walked across the border with a few dollars tucked into a shoe.




Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Author: David Stout

WASHINGTON -- A seemingly routine drug arrest in Tucson, Ariz., will be reviewed by the Supreme Court to clarify the circumstances in which police officers who do not have a warrant can search the vehicle of a person who is under arrest.

The justices agreed on Monday to review the case of Rodney Joseph Gant, whose arrest on Aug. 25, 1999, raised questions that have sharply divided Arizona courts. State officials are asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn a ruling last July by the Arizona Supreme Court, which ruled that a search of Mr. Gant's car violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that the evidence must therefore be thrown out.

When two uniformed police officers went to a Tucson house after getting a tip about drug activity there, Mr. Gant answered the door and told the officers that the owner of the house was not there but would return later.

The officers left and ran a record check on Mr. Gant, discovering that his driver's license had been suspended and that there was an arrest warrant against him for driving with a suspended license. That evening, the officers returned to the house. While they were there, Mr. Gant drove up and parked his car in the driveway.

What happened in those moments was crucial. As Mr. Gant got out of his car, an officer called to him. Mr. Gant walked no more than 12 feet toward the officer, who immediately arrested and handcuffed him. Very soon, the suspect was locked in the back of a patrol car under police supervision. Two other suspects were arrested, handcuffed and safely locked in other patrol cars at the time.

Then a search of Mr. Gant's car turned up a small plastic bag containing cocaine. After Mr. Gant was convicted of possession of a drug with intent to sell plus possession of drug paraphernalia, his lawyers continued to try to have the evidence against him suppressed, asserting that there had been no justification for the warrantless search of his vehicle.




Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2008
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

In 4 Years of Tighter Controls, Violence Has More Than Doubled

WASHINGTON -- Violence against government agents working along the U.S.-Mexican border is escalating in response to government efforts to crack down on illegal drug and human smuggling rings, Homeland Security officials say.

Since 2004, the number of assaults has more than doubled, from 384 that year to 987 in fiscal 2007. And this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, is set to outpace the last one.

There have been 409 reported assaults so far this year compared with 275 during the same time period last year.

Most of the assaults involve "rockings," in which drug and human smugglers throw rocks, bricks and other objects at agents.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said more serious incidents have been reported.

"We've had occasions of people shooting at agents, trying to run agents down with vehicles, throwing large rocks or pieces of brick or concrete at agents, which actually can be fatal, and I've seen some pretty serious injuries that have resulted from it," he said. "The levels have consistently increased."




Pubdate: Sun, 24 Feb 2008
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2008 PG Publishing
Author: Bill Moushey

In 1991, shortly after his 22nd birthday, Lee Lucas became an undercover agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He quickly built international drug investigations stretching from his Miami base to the Bahamas, Brazil, Bolivia and beyond.

Over the next five years, in every major case the long-haired undercover operative and son of a Cleveland cop worked, there were charges of deceit, perjury, missing drugs and money, questionable associations with criminal informers and allegations that sting operations he orchestrated were rife with fraud.

At the time, none of the complaints resulted in any public disciplinary action, but several individuals who have complained about his tactics say they were recently questioned by U.S. Department of Justice officials investigating Mr. Lucas for his work in a Mansfield, Ohio, drug sting that led to 26 arrests. Twenty-three of those cases were dismissed or ended in acquittals after a federal informant who worked with Agent Lucas said he had framed innocent people.

It's an old pattern with Agent Lucas.

It dates to the mid-1990s, when Gary J. McDaniel, president of Pretext Services Inc., a private investigative firm in North Palm Beach, Fla., joined a group of defense lawyers and defendants who complained about Agent Lucas to the DEA, the Justice Department and members of Congress.

Mr. McDaniel called the cases made by Agent Lucas "a textbook example of the abuse of power of which appear to be endorsed by senior management of the DEA."




A Canadian philosophy professor who won the right to a personal medicinal cannabis consumption room on campus is now helping others defend themselves against possession charges, arguing, with great success, that Canada's possession laws are unconstitutional, and therefore of no force and effect.

Contra Costa's county supervisors voted unanimously and expediently to ban medical cannabis dispensaries, outwardly expressing concern over litter, crime, diversion and odors.

A stubborn North Dakota farmer and Vote Hemp are still seeking the blessings of the DEA to cultivate industrial hemp, or rather, to grow cannabis, because the DEA does not recognize the term "industrial hemp." Why should they? Hemp is not a "drug."

Finally, a euphonious eulogy to 'Pharmaco-Ethnomusicologist' Dr. John P. Morgan, 68, who died February 15 at the age of 68.


Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Southam Inc.
Author: Brian Preston

Why Can't Ottawa Deliver a Sensible, Humane Medicinal-Marijuana Program?

Jim Kerr was making lunch one Friday afternoon last month when seven police officers burst in, put him up against the wall and handcuffed him.

"I have multiple sclerosis and grow marijuana for it," he told them.

"Shut up," said an officer. "You're not under arrest yet."

"The marijuana is upstairs in a room I keep locked when the kids are home," he said.

"Shut up," he was told again. From upstairs came the gleeful howls of policemen: "We got it! Bust him!"

On a cold day, they refused to let him put on a jacket, took him away in handcuffs, called Children's Aid to take away his daughters, held him for four hours at the station, then told him to walk home.

Welcome to Canada, where for the past eight years courts have been calling upon Parliament to enact a law protecting the right of the sick to use cannabis as medicine -- and where successive governments have refused to allow Parliament to do so. Instead, Ottawa has created a series of arbitrary regulations that make marijuana more difficult to obtain than opium.

Jim Kerr thought he had done everything right. He had applied to Health Canada's Medical Marijuana Access Division, filled in his portion of their 33-page application and left the document with his doctor to fill in the rest. The overworked GP left the paperwork untouched for a year, and that turned Jim Kerr into a criminal.

When Kerr got home from the police station, he got on his computer to look for help. Some time earlier, he had bookmarked a website,, the work of a philosophy professor named Doug Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is a former Rhodes Scholar whose Oxford thesis was on the subject of constitutional law, and also a person legally entitled to use cannabis for medical reasons. His own exhausting fight to assert his rights at the University of Toronto has forced him "down out of the Ivory Tower" and into medical marijuana activism. "The government is not being controlled properly by its own constitution," Hutchinson says. "I experienced the hideousness of it personally, and if I walk away, then I consent to it happening to others."

Hutchinson argues that no proper legal arrangement exists to protect Canadians who use cannabis medically, and therefore the entire prohibition against cannabis is invalid. A similar argument persuaded a Toronto judge to acquit a man of marijuana possession last July, and an Oshawa judge to acquit three men in November. This year, judges in London, Ont., and Kitchener, Ont., have thrown out simple possession charges in cases where the accused used Hutchinson's defence strategy.




Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2008
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Knight Ridder
Author: Ryan Huff

Medical marijuana dispensaries won't be allowed to open in Contra Costa's unincorporated areas as county supervisors Tuesday unanimously agreed to ban them.

Too often dispensaries are a gateway for people with questionable medical ailments to obtain marijuana and then sell it on the streets, supervisors said.

"While I am empathetic to patients with serious and terminal illness, the marijuana dispensaries have attracted both criminal and nuisance problems to the communities where they operate," said Supervisor Mary Piepho of Discovery Bay.

Such facilities have been prohibited since the county approved a temporary moratorium in April 2006. But that moratorium expires April 10, which is why supervisors fast-tracked the permanent ordinance banning land uses that violate state or federal law.

Using marijuana -- even for medical purposes -- is illegal under federal law, according to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This conflicts with a state law voters passed in 1996 that permits residents with certain medical conditions to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

M.E.D.'s Dispensary in El Sobrante -- the only legal medical marijuana business in the unincorporated county -- can remain open since it applied for a land-use permit before the 2006 moratorium.

Banning new facilities will inspire a black market for medical marijuana sales, patient advocates told supervisors.




Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: Williston Herald (ND)
Copyright: 2008 Williston Herald
Author: LeAnn Eckroth

Ray farmer Wayne Hauge knows a good cash crop when he sees one. In industrial hemp, he finds almost boundless potential. Its uses span from fabrics, to food products to biofuels.

Hemp's red light comes in the form federal regulations which mistakenly label it in the same category as marijuana. In January of 2007, Hauge said he originally received a certificate for growing industrial hemp from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

"In January of 2007, I had to apply for a federal license for cannabis because the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) does not recognize the word 'industrial hemp,'" he recalled.

He complied and filled out the application to grow the product with the DEA. State Ag Commissioner Roger Johnson hand-delivered Hauge's and Osnabrock farmer David Monson's applications to DEA headquarters.

"They were less than receptive," Hauge said. "Hemp is identified differently under North Dakota law than cannabis because it is less than .3 a percent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)."


"Because of a delay in processing the applications, the decision was made to take the matter to U.S. District Court in Bismarck," Hauge continued. "U.S. Judge Daniel Hoveland just dismissed the case, and we filed an appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals."

The motion of appeal was done earlier this month. The date of when arguments will be heard is still pending. Financially backing the legal action is nation's leading advocacy group for the product, Vote Hemp.

"One of our goals is to get some fact-finding to discuss in court the definition of industrial hemp," Hauge said. "We have no interest in growing cannabis."

Just a couple of hours north of us in Canada, Hauge said industrial hemp is grown for multiple products.

"They're growing it, and they're doing well with it. They make soaps, lotions, ropes and twine. When you combine its fibers with flax, cotton and silk, it makes a very soft product. Hemp could make a nice prom dress," he said. "They've got hemp granola bars and hemp milk in three flavors."




Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2008
Source: New York Sun, The (NY)
Copyright: 2008 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.
Author: Stephen Miller, Staff Reporter of the Sun

John P. Morgan, who died February 15 at 68, was among the most outspoken physicians favoring drug legalization, and testified as an expert witness for the defense in hundreds of trials.

A self-described "pharmaco-ethnomusicologist," he liked to track down drug references in popular music to illustrate the history of drug use in America for students at the City University of New York's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, where Morgan was chairman emeritus of the pharmacology department.

"Alcohol songs, like heroin songs, tend to be negative and warning," Morgan told the New Yorker in 2003. "Marijuana songs are almost always funny."

It was as an expert on the non-dangers of marijuana that Morgan was best known, especially for his 1997 book "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence," co-authored with a Queens College sociologist, Lynn Zimmer. The book concludes that warnings about cancer, addiction, and other side effects are overblown, although he did have some reservations about the drug.

"I oppose driving, babysitting, or entering into marital contracts after smoking," Morgan said in an Internet video produced by the Drug Policy Alliance.

But, hammering home his pro-legalization message, Morgan added that if marijuana were found to be harmful, such a finding would be an additional reason to legalize it, as the government should then regulate it.




Officials on both sides of the border welcomed Presidente Calderon's bloody escalation of the drug war, but the violence has only gotten worse as traffickers jostle for market share. A Dallas Morning News piece this week details an especially violent year Mexican border-town Juarez has suffered, and it is only February.

Meet the new boss (Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej), same as the old boss (Thaksin Shinawatra). Those watching the political situation in Thailand see ominous signs on the horizon as the new Thai government promises a replay of the "killing spree in 2003 [where] thousands named on police 'black lists' were shot dead, allegedly on government orders." Note to Thai drug users: don't turn yourselves in to police - they'll just come and shoot you, to get their quota filled. Hopefully the foreign press will take notice, this time around.

Villagers in the Gaya and Bihar districts of India were surprised to learn that odd-looking variety of "mustard" farmers were growing there was really opium, after all. Authorities raided the small opium patches last week but alas, the farmers could not be found "as all the male members had absconded from the villages after seeing the posse of armed police forces."

Times are changing, and police in Canada know that "More police!" is always the answer to the question "What do you want?", as disgraced ex-RCMP chief Zaccardelli demonstrated again this week for Canadian senators. And why "more," forevermore? The existence of "terrorism" and those ever-evil "marijuana growing operations", explained Zaccardelli, that's why: just saving the children.


Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News

72 Slain This Year in Border City; Worst Is Still to Come, Officials Say

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - This city and Nuevo Laredo have historically shared a fierce rivalry over the benefits of their border location, especially when it comes to trade routes. These days, however, they're competing for a title nobody wants: bloodiest border city.

Since the beginning of the year, Juarez has suffered an onslaught of killings - 72 as of Wednesday - most of them tied to organized crime. They are the result of a bloody fight for control of drug distribution routes to U.S. cities, including Dallas. And U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials say the worst is yet to come.




Pubdate: Sun, 24 Feb 2008
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Thomas Bell, Bangkok

The new Thai Government is to relaunch the country's "war on drugs" which killed more than 2500 people allegedly involved in the trade. During a three-month killing spree in 2003 thousands named on police "black lists" were shot dead, allegedly on government orders.

Yet the government's narcotics control board concluded that more than half the victims had no involvement in drugs. One couple from north-eastern Thailand was shot dead after coming into unexplained wealth. They were, in fact, lottery winners.

The campaign was one of the policies of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister who now lives in exile and owns Manchester City Football Club.

"My Government will decisively implement a policy against drug trafficking. Government officials must implement this policy 24 hours a day, but I will not set a target for how many people should die," said Samak Sundaravej, the new Prime Minister.

Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, said: "When we implement a policy that may bring 3000 to 4000 bodies, we will do it."




Pubdate: Sat, 23 Feb 2008
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Thomas Bell, Daily Telegraph

BANGKOK - The new Thai government is to relaunch the country's "war on drugs" which killed more than 2,500 people allegedly involved in the trade.


Although the military junta which overthrew Mr. Thaksin in 2006 called the killings "a crime against humanity," the former premier and his supporters -- who were re-elected in December -- insist that the dead were the victims of gang warfare, not police killings.

Yet there is strong evidence of police involvement. Many were shot days after being summoned to defend themselves before local authorities or after reporting to a police station to have their name removed from the "black list."

The government ordered the police to compile "back lists" which were as comprehensive as possible, then shorten the list by 25 per cent every month. Often the only way off the list was death.



Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: DNA (India)
Copyright: 2008 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd
Author: Sanjay Singh

PATNA: The rampant cultivation of opium (poppy seeds) in some villages in naxal-affected Gaya district and near the Indo-Bangladesh border in Kishanganj district of Bihar has baffled the state administration. Interestingly, residents of Simalbari village under Kishanganj district were equally surprised to know that the new crop being grown in their village was opium and its cultivation was an offense liable for prosecution under the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) act.


Ziaul Haque and Mohd Nazmul are residents of another village along the Indo-Bangladesh border. A tract of land was leased out to them for Rs1,700 through one of their relatives. The land owners and villagers were stunned to learn the crop, which planters said was a new variety of mustard from Assam, was actually opium. When police raided the village of the planters they were found absconding.




Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Barbara Yaffe


"The federal government in their platform speeches suggested they were embracing a law and order agenda. Where is the meat?" asked Zaccardelli, asserting that double the 2,500 new police would be required just to maintain the current roster of 64,000 sworn officers.


"You hear some people talk in black and white terms about how crime is down in the country and why do we need the number of police officers that we have," Boyd observed.


Today, police deal with Internet crimes, often involving child pornography; identity theft; terrorism threats; national health emergencies; marijuana growing operations; international crime syndicates; human trafficking; contraband smuggling; and youth and street gangs.


Zaccardelli told the senators: "The bottom line is that there has been a 10-per-cent reduction in real capacity to do police work over the last decade."

He described RCMP ability to respond to terrorism incidents on Canadian soil as "seriously deficient."



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WKRN-TV in Nashville

Looks like there may be some drug planting too.


The government keeps returning to a punitive-prohibitionist stance on drugs when every informed view, including its own analysts', advises otherwise

By Steve Rolles


Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 02/27/08 - Martin Terry

Professor Martin Terry of Sul Ross University discusses the legal peyote trade in the US and Mexico and it's use by the Native American Church.

Century of Lies - 02/26/08 - Mark Bennett

LEAP speaker Dean Becker interviews Mark Bennett, incoming head of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association regarding the DA scandal, the jail scandal, the decades long and ineffective waging of the drug war. Pt 2


Retired police officer Peter Christ from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), talks about why the group advocates the legalization, regulation, and control of currently banned drugs.


Washington, DC - For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison-a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women, according to the study.

One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008



Imagine being able to reform one of the worst federal drug laws of all time. You can do it. The draconian crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity is on the ropes. We need you to provide the knock-out punch.



By Jack Ricker

For the Monitor February 25, 2008

I am writing to inform the public about HB 1623, the bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. As a taxpayer, I believe our limited law enforcement resources should be spent fighting serious crime.

This is not an effort to legalize marijuana, just to reduce penalties so the punishment comes closer to fitting the offense.

Twelve states have decriminalized marijuana since 1973, so it's not as if we'd be going first. ( Oregon went first in 1973; Nevada was most recent in 2001. ) The federal government has not interfered.

Does saddling a young ( or older ) person with a criminal record serve the interests of society? Will individuals be better off for having been arrested?

If harsh penalties are really a deterrent, why haven't states like Maine ( where it's been a violation since 1976) experienced elevated rates of use? ( They haven't. )

Society can discourage marijuana use without criminalizing responsible users. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has a saying that applies strongly to this bill: "You can get over an addiction, but you can't get over a conviction."

It serves no benefit to society when individuals are strapped with criminal records for minor marijuana offenses, especially when students are denied financial aid for college.

Marijuana should be treated differently than "hard" drugs such as heroin; failure to do so undermines the credibility of drug education.

We should not make criminals out of people who merely enjoy unpopular vices in the privacy of their own homes.

Jack Ricker, Concord

Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)



By William F. Buckley, Jr.

The experience of Ed Rosenthal of Oakland, California, accelerates the day when heavy dilemmas in our legal system might just force a fresh look at our marijuana laws. Presumably that will have to happen when state legislators, congressmen, and presidents are in recess, because the great enemy of sensible reform has been, of course, politicians high from righteousness.

What happened to Rosenthal was that he was convicted of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy, facing a conceivable sentence of 100 years in prison and a fine of $4.5 million.

The defense attorney had been forbidden by presiding Federal District Judge Charles Breyer to advise the jury of the perspectives of the defense.

The city of Oakland, instructed by a statewide proposition in 1996, had enacted an ordinance authorizing the growth of marijuana for medical use. The judge took the flat position that local laws do not override federal laws; therefore the verdict could not be influenced by the legal contradiction, and therefore the jurors shouldn't be sidetracked by hearing about it. The reasoning was identical to that of Judge George King in the case of computer guru and poet Peter McWilliams. Judge King did not permit McWilliams to base his defense on the California initiative. McWilliams died from AIDS, while awaiting sentencing, unrelieved by the marijuana that critically lessened his nausea.

Sentencing day for Rosenthal was at hand on June 5, and there was some commotion when the thought was expressed that the guilty finding could mean life in prison.

One juror had told the press that if she had known such might be the consequence of a guilty finding, she, and presumably other jurors, would not have voted as they did. The day came, and Judge Breyer, perhaps with a wink of the eye, sentenced Rosenthal to one day in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Now Ed Rosenthal is not to be confused with a stray felon who took a toke at an outdoor movie with his date. Oh no. Rosenthal is a full-time practitioner of resistance to marijuana legislation. He has written several books, totaling in sales over 1 million.

In one of his most recent, The Closet Cultivator, he outlined how to build an indoor-marijuana-growing system impossible to detect through any method other than betrayal.

When arrested, he was linked to a nearby warehouse full of the drug, ostensibly consigned for medical use. Rosenthal had been teasing the law along about as provocatively as one can do. He had a monthly radio show, and a little while before his arrest his guest was San Francisco's district attorney, Terence Hallinan, who praised efforts by medical-marijuana cooperatives and permitted himself the obiter dictum on existing laws that "the government anti-drug policy is a big lie that's supported by a thousand other lies."

Eric Schlosser of The Atlantic Monthly has published a deeply informative and readable book called Reefer Madness. He wonderfully illustrates the complexity, contradiction, and futility of extant drug laws. Although Governor Clinton of Arkansas introduced legislation to lessen state penalties for marijuana, he went on, as president, to treat marijuana as if it were as innocent as adultery.

He doubled the arrests for marijuana infractions. When Nixon declared his tough-drug policies, athwart the recommendation of his own commission which had advocated licensing marijuana for individual home consumption, arrests climbed to over 100,000 per year. In 2001, 720,000 Americans were arrested for pot. About 20,000 inmates in the federal system have been incarcerated primarily for a marijuana offense.

Those in state systems would equal that figure, and exceed it.

The problem is more than the laws' contradictions. The Uniform Sentencing Act has given prosecutors, not judges, almost plenary powers over defendants, power ruthlessly used to extract information and to encourage duplicity and to make property rights insecure.

Judicial process is convoluted to the point where a judge can reasonably exercise a choice between 100 years in prison and one day in prison.

The marijuana laws can most directly be compared to the Prohibition-era laws, which didn't work, undermined the law, and were capriciously enforced. Pot consumption varies, but not in correlation with the laws' throw-weight. If you buy an ounce in New York State, that could bring you a fine of $100; in Louisiana, a jail sentence of 20 years.

Ed Rosenthal is quoted by author Schlosser. Will the laws in America dissipate, as they have done in Europe? He doesn't think so. "They've made the laws so brittle, one day they're going to break." The whole edifice of prohibition would come down, he predicted, "like the fall of the Berlin Wall." Schlosser nicely summarized Rosenthal's prediction. "A group of powerful, white, middle-aged men will meet in a room to discuss what to do about marijuana. And they will reach the only logical conclusion: tax it."

Like booze, some will then go on to abuse it, though with consequences less dire.

Editor's Note: William F. Buckley, Jr. died earlier this week, and opponents of the drug war lost an eloquent voice. Here is one of his pieces from 2002 archived by the Media Awareness Project.


"You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free." - Clarence Darrow

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